Location: Fruit and Tree Nut ResearchTitle: Retrospective Highlights: 50 Years of Pecan Research at USDA-ARS, Byron GA
Submitted to: Pecan Grower
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2021
Publication Date: 10/13/2021
Citation: Shapiro Ilan, D.I., Cottrell, T.E., Bock, C.H., Pisani, C. 2021. Retrospective Highlights: 50 Years of Pecan Research at USDA-ARS, Byron GA. Pecan Grower. 33(5)/9-24.
Technical Abstract: On May 18, 1970, the USDA-Agricultural Research Service established and dedicated the Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Station (SEFTNRS) in Byron, Georgia. In this article, we present a retrospective on some of the keystone pecan research accomplishments from the Byron station, as well as current research and future directions. We organized the article by discipline. In entomology, some of the key accomplishments include the development of the "Tedders trap" that is used widely for monitoring pecan weevil and is now also used to monitor weevils in many other crops. Byron scientists developed the most widely used chemical inseciticide regimes to control pecan weevil, as well as organic methods to control the pest such as the use of beneficial nematodes, fungi or bacterial-based biopesticides. Gibberellic acid was developed as an effective environmentally friendly control method for pecan aphids. In horticulture, Byron scientists discovered that nickel (Ni) is an important element for pecan nutrition. Nickel fertilizer was found to improve tree health, correct mouse-ear disorder and reduce pecan scab (fungal disease). Additionally, hedge-pruning, a beneficial cultural practice was introduced to southeastern US pecan production based on research conducted by Byron scientists. In plant pathology, Byron scientists established the early fungicide regimes for control of scab (the key fungal disease of pecan) and also introduced new tactics such as the use of phosphites. Moreover, Byron scientists addressed spray timing and coverage for scab control. Future research will focus on developing additional novel methods of insect and disease control, improved fertilization and leveraging genomic information to enhance pecan productivity.